What They Don’t Tell You About Freelancing

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You know those people you see in pictures drinking coffee and working on a laptop? Yep, you can freelance like that. However, that's not the case for all freelancers. Here's what they don't tell you:

Freelancing is taking the working world by storm. More than half of Millennial workers will be freelancers by next year, while more than half of all U.S. workers will join them within the next decade.

Those exponential numbers promise a working concept which benefits the employee and their work-life balance. What gets lost in those numbers, however, are the drawbacks. Those same figures betray the stress of not knowing what the next project is and how that impacts upon savings and employee safeguards.

#1 It’s Economics

It’s important to start any conversation like this with the realities of freelance work and all that it entails. For example, some months you may earn $10,000, and others you might be making just enough to scrape by and pay the bills. Freelancing means the acceptance of ebbs and flows that such work entails. It also means preparing for those leaner months to make sure you can get by.

Overcoming the obstacles and low-income periods requires preparation. The most successful people out there have multiple income streams to ensure they remain financially secure. I would advocate the same – create multiple streams of income and investments so that slower freelance months can be subsidized and supported by other means. Further, diversify on which platforms you find new work. This is often easier said than done and does require planning – so make sure you are prepared for this reality of freelancing.

#2 It’s All On You

Further to this point of freelancing from contract to contract, it also means the removal of support structures common in large companies and offices. Gone is the support network of coworkers, or stable place of work, or stringent start and end times – freelancing means all decisions are on you and you alone.

This can be daunting, especially for those who have spent their working lives within corporations and inside open-plan offices.

This style of work means knowing how to handle and manage the stress of working project to project – and what that means without traditional company structures for support. In this regard, I am a big believer in meditation. People mostly say they’re too busy or they mistake meditation for religious practice. However, did you know you can simply close your eyes at your desk for 15 minutes and clear your mind? That’s meditation – and it’s unbelievably therapeutic. Even the smallest bit of headspace can help you calm your mind and come up with innovative solutions for the problem you’re faced with that could otherwise take hours.

#3 Forget The Romance Of It

You know those people you see in pictures drinking coffee and working on a laptop? Yep, you can freelance like that. However, what you might not know is that freelancers everywhere are stressed. They’re stressed because they don’t know where their next project is coming from; they’re stressed because they don’t have someone to talk to about the challenges they are facing alone.

Behind that image of a coffee is a person often fighting for their next project. They are not just enjoying their time at a cafe, but actively bidding on forthcoming projects or selling themselves to prospective employers. Basically, freelancing is not just a romantic idea of ditching the office and working four-hour days. It still requires the “work” part of work, even if that is from a coffee shop rather than the corporate headquarters.

#4 Company Culture – Or Lack Thereof

What many employers do not understand is that someone on the other side of the continent, sitting in their living room building software, is no different than someone sitting in the corporate office building that same software. It should be no wonder that the majority of the population is turning to freelance – the cost savings to the employer when hiring a contractor are astronomical!

The employer is not obliged to offer the worker benefits which those in the office likely receive, and they get the same quality of work. On the flip side, workers themselves miss out on the camaraderie of turning up to work, day in and day out. Much has been written on the subject of freelance loneliness, and this is certainly something that most people are not realistic about when they start their freelance careers.

Company culture from the other side of a keyboard is simply not the same. Therefore, those who do want to freelance full-time must be prepared for this working reality. There is plenty of support for workers online, and co-working spaces can be a good way to keep in touch with others in the same situation.

At the end of the day, whether it be social or professional, the positives of freelance do outweigh the negatives. Nonetheless, workers do need to be aware that it is not all travel and lattes. Freelance work is still, well, work. Make sure you completely understand the pros and cons of this work-life balance before joining the majority in this freelance revolution.



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